The Great Bund Wall Debacle

Whatever my thoughts on the necessity for the dredge program, nevertheless it was governmentally approved and therefore legal. Except…

We knew it wasn’t right. We knew they were lying to us. All the evidence showed that there was something wrong with the way that dredging program operated. After all, in spite of the scale, dredging is nothing new in Gladstone Harbour and the risks of dealing with acid sulfate soils are well known. It required a well engineered solution and careful handling of day to day operations.

The truth will out and what started as a trickle is now becoming a flood. Ironic isn’t it? ‘Blame it on the rain’ was never a valid excuse for the ecological impacts on Gladstone Harbour. Such an ecological collapse has never happened yet, no matter how much rain we have had and for it to occur several months after the floods was never scientifically credible.

Firstly, we have this leaked report which shows that the bund wall was constructed with sub-standard materials, and that the geo textile filter which should have been installed within the wall was simply laid on top. This caused the bund wall to leak and toxic materials to leach into the surrounding water.

Someone profited from the sub-standard installation – the question is who? I know who didn’t – the local fishing industry and the local people.

Secondly, we have this from the Australian: GLADSTONE Ports Corporation was forced to seek urgent permission to breach its environmental approvals in a race to plug a leaking bund wall before it ran out of space to store potentially toxic acid sulphate soils from dredging associated with the $33 billion Curtis Island LNG export terminals.

We knew that the Ports Corporation had applied to get the rules on turbidity testing changed just for them, but we didn’t know the exact reasons. They certainly weren’t forthcoming on the exact reasons themselves. If they had just come out and said at the time that the process wasn’t working, that there was urgent need to fix the bund wall, if they had just stopped what they were doing to take a deep breath and re-assess the situation. But no, when there is money involved it is full steam ahead and damn the dugongs and turtles.

Thirdly, there is this from the Gladstone Observer: THE Gladstone Ports Corporation has refused to answer questions about whether its Western Basin bund wall failed to meet its environmental commitments.

Too right it is refusing to answer questions. You see, there is a huge liability issue which you can read about here. I believe the Gladstone Ports Corporation failed us on many levels. They failed to choose the correct contractors. They failed to monitor the actions of those contractors. They failed to adequately monitor water quality. They failed to ensure no environmental harm, and most of all, they have failed to acknowledge their mistakes.

The people of Gladstone at the very least deserve an apology.

There are now strident calls for an enquiry: FEDERAL Environment Minister Greg Hunt has called for an urgent review of claims that the failure of a bund wall may have been a major factor in the collapse of water quality and marine health in Gladstone Harbour.
Environment groups have called for a royal commission-style inquiry into dredging in the Queensland port — as part of the $33 billion Curtis Island LNG developments — to establish what went wrong and whether state and federal regulators had acted responsibly.
and we really hope that it won’t deliver the same ridiculous result as the so called ‘Independent Review of the Port of Gladstone’ which found … dredging and dumping of dredge spoil in the ocean is environmentally acceptable..

As painful as it may be, the truth must and will come out, as people become ex-employees and have nothing to lose. There will be more whistles blown, there will be more leaked documents.

Because if you think the debacle of the bund wall is the only corruption of process in how business is done in Gladstone, you’d better think again.